Is Your Edible Brand Moving to Canada? What You Need to Know

Canadian demand for edibles is creating a shortage at retail stores. Ontario’s Cannabis Store processed 2,000 transactions within an hour of introducing 70 products and ran out of certain products shortly after. Canada’s new edible market is a bright spot for the industry, and Canada is a natural growth market for any US edible brand.

What should US brands know before expanding into Canada?

US brands manufacturing may expect that the US and Canadian regulations would be similar. However, Canada’s regulations are restrictive and require companies to do work. We compared Canada’s requirements for edibles, including the marketing and labeling requirements, to California’s regulations and found the differences What this means is that the cost of doing business is higher in Canada and the revenues per consumer may be lower.

What are the high-level differences?

US brands considering expansion should review Canada’s regulations and hire local counsel for guidance. Below is a quick summary of the major differences between the edible regulations for Canada and California.

Definition of Edibles:

  • Canada has broadly contemplated and addressed a wide range of edible products. Check with your attorney before selling a product that contains additives, requires refrigeration, or includes alcohol or tobacco.

  • In California, edibles are consumed like food. California has banned infused alcoholic beverages and hemp-based CBD infused food products.

Serving Size:

  • Canada limits edibles to 10mg of THC per discreet unit. Brands may sell 10 mg. “multi-packs”. The low limit is intended to avoid overconsumption. Canada chose this limit based on lessons learned in the United States.

  • California permits an edible package to contain 100 mgs with 10mg per unit. The product can be further demarked into 5 mg units.

Products and Ingredients:

  • In Canada, products may not be sold that require refrigeration or freezing including meat, poultry, and fish. 

  • Canada does not allow edibles that contain vitamins or minerals or use caffeine as an additive. Canada requires the caffeine to be natural and to not exceed 30mg.

  • Canada’s definition of an “ingredient” is complicated and unreadable. Ingredients must be food or food additives. The definition broadly includes any substance that is used to produce the edible that becomes part of or affects the characteristics of the edible. The question is whether solutions used in the extraction process would be considered an ingredient or is it just the post-extraction THC?

  • California directly states that an ingredient is anything used in the edible manufacturing process that is intended to be in the final product. California limits the ingredients to those that are permitted by the USDA for use in food.

Label Requirements:

  • Canada requires information on the label to be in French and English.

  • The requirements under the Canadian regulations are more detailed and include more risk disclosures such as whether there is any irradiated treatment. In addition to food allergens, the disclosure requirements may require brands to include the source of gluten or added sulfites that are greater than 10 p.p.m. By contrast, California requires labels to disclose major food allergens

  • Canada requires labels to include a cannabis-specific nutritional fact table.

  • The display panel or label may not cause a person to believe that the product has a flavor other than cannabis.

  • The ingredient list must include all flavoring agents.

Expanding into Canada is an exciting proposition. US brands should consider how to leverage cross-border similarities in order to reduce costs in manufacturing the product and generating packaging and labels. Understanding the key components of US and Canadian regulations can help businesses save money and help stores feel comfortable putting the brand’s products on the shelves.

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